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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not Like Harry

Sometimes, when I'm seriously in need of inspiration, I'll go to and see what discussions are a'brewin' on Ye Olde Discussion Boarde.

It's.... um.... interesting, if nothing else.

Someone wants to know if you're on "Google Wave" yet. I don't even know what the fuck Google Wave is, which, I guess, is just one of the reasons why, come May 12, I will no longer be allowed to be a member of this site.

Someone else wants to know who should be the "featured blogger for November." Well, me, obviously. What are you, fucking stupid? Didn't you know that? Like, do you not also know what Google Wave is?

Some other someone or other wants you to know that they "love comments!" That's all kindsa awesome. Maybe I'll make a comment about that.

Then there's someone who wants to know "How often do you smile?"

And I thought to myself, rather than toss of some one-liner or inane attempt at a witticism that will be forgotten about and buried within six minutes, I'll make that my blog for today.

And why not?

The answer to this question, for me anyway, is "not often." That probably doesn't surprise many of you, whether you know me personally or not. Maybe one or two of you are like, "Wait a minute, how can someone who uses words like "shitsticks" and "donkeynips" and was nominated for the Funniest Blog Award not smile often?

Well, children, if you know enough funny people in your life, you'll know that funny people (if you'll permit me to be so bold) aren't typically walking around with a giddy grin plastered on their face all the time. Some of our greatest humorists are notoriously dark fucks-- take The Humorist, Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens. You might know him better as Mark Twain.

"But in my age, as in my youth, night brings me many a deep remorse. I realize that, from the cradle up I have been like the rest of the race-- never quite sane in the night."

I can remember one of my father's last attempts to connect with me about something that held my interest. It was music. He asked me one day what radio station I listened to, and I told him. It's the radio station of one of our local universities, and it routinely plays longing, tender ballads of contemporary folk artists like Patty Griffin and Richard Shindell and other guitar troubador type folks like that. There used to be a show on Sundays that exclusively played Celtic music, and many of the songs concerned young lovers who were forbidden to see each other by their stern, austere fathers, who then ended up slaying not only the young men in these tales, but also their freshly deflowered daughters, often in the bed of their love.

One day, my father came home from work and knocked on my bedroom door. In his customary Israeli way he said to me,

"Mummy-- I've been listening to this fuckin' radio station of yours all week. No wonder you so fuckin' depressed. Jesus. I never heard shit like this before. This one goes to the graveyard to visit her parents and this one gets hanged-- what the fuck, you know?!"

Yes, I know. And I also know that I don't smile very often.

My mother's father didn't smile very often either. In every picture of him, he looks as if he'd just heard Kennedy'd been shot. There's a furrowed anxiety and an umistakable pall hanging over him. When I pose for photographs, I say to myself in my head, "Okay, not like Harry. Not like Harry."

Invariably, though, I end up looking just like Harry.

Of course, I'm not like Harry. He was cruel with his words and inept with his hands, sporadic and unpredictable with his affections. I am none of those things, except maybe inept with my hands. Although I did put up shelves with my wife three weeks ago, a task for which Harry would have called in the National Guard. I just look like the sonofabitch in pictures, especially when I wear a tie, which is 96% of the time.

I don't have good teeth, either. That's the flip reason I give most of the time when there's some schmuck behind a camera egging me on to "Smile!"

"I can't," I'll say, "my fangs will frighten children for generations."

And that, like lots of things funny people say, is kind of true, but kind of not. Mostly, I feel like a great, big idiot when I widen my mouth and show my teeth-- like it's not a smile but a show. And I put on enough shows for people, I think. My Harry Half-Smile, Half-Wince is what people usually get, and I wonder if my grandchildren are going to look at those pictures and say, "God, what a sad sonofabitch. He must have listened to some sad fucking music."

And I love sad music, but I am not a sad sonofabitch. Do I get sad and depressed? Sure. Do I sometimes wear care and worry and stress on my face? Yeah.

But, hey-- I'm a blogger. And I'm snarky.

And I tell it like it is, even when it's on my face for all the world to see anyway.


  1. The sad truth is, if you can't use the dark humor, you can't really be funny. Because life sucks. ;)

  2. I don't smile much either. For years at school, kids laughed at me for how I looked when I smiled -- this made me both unhappy and more determined not to smile often.

    I try to make an effort to smile in pictures now, since I hate the idea that if someone didn't know me then from my pictures they would presume I was in a bad mood all of the time.

  3. Ah, as my love Hornby wrote, "What came first: The music or the misery?" Something like that anyway. I used to listen to a lot of depressing music.... until I got sucked into the the indie pop-electronic shit that I am all over now. It's impossible to even pretend to be sad with this shit bopping in your ear. It's the best.

    I'm with you on the dark humour side of things. I want to punch those overly happy smiley people in the face. That's not funny, just annoying.

    I'm not even sure what I'm talking about anymore, so mission accomplished.

  4. Ah, smiling...

    I rarely smile either! Well, at least in photos. I like to think I'm mastered a straight face -- it's great for situations of ALL kinds. Impassive is awesome -- no one really knows what you're thinking.

    I too have huge fangs. My teeth are OK tho -- not too maligned, but a little. I shoulda had braces when I was younger.

    I smile a lot I think though, and people say I have a nice smile/grin/laugh. But I think I just look plain scary.

  5. I am not big on smiling either. It just happens to accentuate my double chin and I hate my teeth. I'm more focused on using my skills to make other people smile or laugh at my clever jokes and one liners.


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